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Having kids with many women problematic

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Men’s most guarded secrets almost always spill out of the drawers once they are dead and the assets that make up their estates have to be distributed to the heirs. Apart from the estates’ administration, there are more intimate, sensitive loose ends that need to be tied up and it’s a delicate process.
Report by Ropafadzo Mapimhidze

There is a lot of shame, too, associated with the messy issues that unfaithful men would have not addressed in their lifetime.

This week, I witnessed such an incident after attending an edict meeting at the High Court. This is the meeting where a family whose beloved one would have died is asked by officials from the Master of the High Court’s office to select the executor of the deceased’s estate.

During this particular incident, the family of a late prominent businessman, who had been invited for an edict meeting, left the court in stitches when it was realised the man had 14 children, and not three as indicated by his surviving spouse. Apparently, the official spouse did not even know about the existence of the other children.

Eight out of the 14 children had their identities, which linked them to the deceased, properly established. The family lawyer was advised to get birth certificates for the other children before they could proceed with the matter.

As if that was not enough a woman who claimed to have had two children with the deceased, introduced herself as the late businessman’s “business partner” drawing laughter from those in attendance. The family was forced to go back to the drawing board to iron out these sticky matters so that the interests of all the children would be captured.

The law is very clear in as far as children are concerned. The law recognises existence of these children regardless the circumstances in which they were born. There is nothing like illegitimate children. This often puts so much strain on the spouse who has to endure the pain of losing her husband and death-induced discovery of her husband’s “wild oats”.

I personally knew the man whose family I met at the High Court. He fought in the country’s war of liberation and held a number of positions in Zanu PF during his political career and was also a successful businessman. He died in September this year and had a senior position in the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association. He was also a Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) board member. One of his brothers was asked to name the outstanding six children. One by one he called out the names while his widowed sister-in-law sat quietly watching the drama unfold. I could not establish whether or not she knew about these other children as I was also attending the edict meeting to choose an executor for my late brother’s estate.

My elder sister, with whom I had attended the meeting, mentioned that her late husband had left 12 children, four of them born out of wedlock. When our turn came, we made our submissions and hardly took 20 minutes because our matter was straight forward. We chose our sister-in-law as executor of my late brother’s estate. It is as simple as that if there are no protestations. Women often knowingly engage in extra-marital affairs with other people’s lawfully-wedded husbands. But the problem can be historical. My paternal grandfather had about seven wives and I am yet to meet all of his many grandchildren and great grandchildren. This family apparently has their own burial society because it is large.

Every time I attend a wedding or funeral on my mother’s side, I meet new uncles and aunts. My mum once said to us: “I wish it was possible for my father to wake up from his grave and see the string of offspring he made on earth. We are so many and I have lost count of some of the children born from all the “mothers” at our village and outside. I keep meeting more and more of his grandchildren as the years progress”

It is surprising that a lot of men married under the Marriages Act Chapter 5:11, which criminalises multiple marriages, sometimes marry other women in a practice that results in so many complications for the spouse and the entire family. One of my cousins says one of her father’s girlfriends calls her asking for upkeep of the baby she sired with him. “I wonder why she calls me. I am looking after my own mother and other children and this woman, who happens to be older than me, has the guts to tell me she wants support for her own baby. Isn’t she crazy? Should I not be knocking on her door as a child?”

These stories tell us that women are their own enemies. The best answer I got from the Internet about why men lie to their various women is that “Married men have wives at home so it wouldn’t be their loss. The married men are going home to their wives like nothing happened because they were good little hubbies just out having fun and made their way back home to their wives.”

  • rmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw

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